Even couples who start off with hot-and-heavy sex lives go through slumps at some point.
Below, sex therapists around the country share six rules and helpful guidelines to stay sexually satisfied in a long-time relationship. (When rules are this fun, why would you want to break them?)
1. Practice the platinum rule.
“We all know the golden rule: Do unto others as you’d like done unto yourself. But the platinum rule is really where it’s at. Do unto your partner that which they would like done for themselves. Seriously, what are their biggest turn-ons? Commit to doing it at least once each week.”― Megan Fleming, a New York City-based sex therapist and the author of Invisible Divorce: Finding Your Way Back to Connection
2. Don’t compare your sex lives to others.
″‘Rick and Jeff have way more sex than us’ is a big no-no but a really common pitfall that couples fall into. When we begin to compare ourselves to other people, we often find a way to either make ourselves seem better or seem less than. A long-term sexual connection is not about who is doing it the best or who’s having it the most often. Over time, your sexual connection with your partner will change, grow and if you’re open, take you places you never knew you could go. You’ll have moments of extreme highs and pleasurable connectedness, as well as moments of lows, feeling bored and disconnected. Remember: This is normal in a long-term sexual relationship.” ― Keeley Rankin, a sex therapist in San Francisco, California
3. Focus on what turns you on about your partner, not the turn-offs.
“When couples come to me to spice up their sex life, I encourage them to be intentional about when they find their partners attractive or sexually appealing. It’s so easy to dwell on the things that turn us off, but we don’t spend enough time focusing on what turns us on. When I pose the question of when they’re turned on by their S.O., they often have a hard time coming up with more than superficial answers. Sometimes, they can’t come up with anything at all. This is because we live in a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ culture. I encourage them to recall what attracted them to their partner in the first place and try to create interactions that are conducive to replicating those feelings. I also ask them to think hard about when they find their partner particularly attractive. One woman told me she is always turned on when her husband carries their toddler on his shoulders. ‘He is so strong yet gentle at the same time. I wanted to have sex with him right there at the mall.’ A husband told me he gets turned on when his wife advocates for their kids at school. ‘She is so sexy when she is in mama bear mode.’ Being aware of the context and situations in which you experience your partner as sexy or appealing ― and celebrating that energy ― is a great way to keep things fresh.” ― Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist in Los Angeles, California
4. Have sex at least once a week.
“Studies show that couples who have sex once a week have a higher level of relational satisfaction than couples who have sex less than once a week. Sex also produces a physiological and psychological afterglow that can last for days. And remember, it’s not just how often you have sex, but also how you engage with each other. Different types of sex produce different benefits. There’s sex that reinforces a sense of emotional connection (lovemaking), sex that expands our sense of creativity and fantasy, there’s sex that appeals directly to our senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) and there’s sex that occurs just for the sake of sex or getting rid of some stress (like a quickie or even taking the time to masturbate). So try to be consistent in frequency and varied in approach and keep your ‘sexpectations’ high. Sometimes if you’re not in the mood you have to put your body through the motions and trust the mind will follow.” ― Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.
5. Schedule kid-free date night. (Better yet, pencil in hotel sex dates.)
“So much energy goes into the kids that couples are too exhausted to nurture each other. The best thing you can do for your kids is to show them that you have a connection outside of them, that you are not just together because of them, but because you genuinely enjoy each other. This means going on dates without them. If you don’t have family nearby or extra cash to pay a sitter, offer to watch another couple’s kids one night in exchange for them to watch your kids the following weekend. Once a year, splurge on a hotel so you can have hotel sex. The novelty of having sex in a new and unfamiliar place will activate dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the same neurochemical that is responsible for the rush of pleasure. Any novel activity (trying a new sport, new food, visiting a new place) activates dopamine.” ― Kimberly Resnick Anderson
6. Have outercourse. (What’s that, you ask? We’ll explain.)
“For most of us, intercourse is often the main entree on the sex menu. Outercourse ― aka oral sex, manual stimulation, and other forms of touch and direct clitoral stimulation ― are put on the backburner. Taking intercourse off the menu is like the equivalent of going vegan and realizing how much other healthy, pleasurable options are out there outside of meat. Recent studies show that most women prefer a high degree of clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, and prioritizing outercourse allows you to discover new paths to pleasure that are sometimes off the beaten path.” ― Ian Kerner